Hawera residents witnessed a woman in a rage chasing her ex-partner around a car with an axe, and police were alerted.

The woman, Jody Rita Cuff, was arrested, and on Tuesday she appeared in the Whanganui District Court charged with possessing a weapon in public.

The argument between the two escalated when the male ex-partner, who had been using cannabis, tried to use a screwdriver and hand-held axe to start Cuff's car, which was parked on the street. He wanted to go and get more weed.

But before he could power up the engine Cuff came steaming out and took the axe off him.

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Police were alerted after members of the public saw an angry Cuff chasing her ex with the axe.

Appearing in court, the 34-year-old's defence lawyer, Stephen Ross, originally played down the event saying Cuff was only trying to stop her ex-partner from driving while high on cannabis and damaging her car.

But after Judge Claire Ryan asked Mr Ross if Cuff wished to dispute the summary of facts she refused and pleaded guilty.

The incident occurred on October 11 while Cuff was on home detention at her former partner's address in Hawera. She has since moved to Whanganui away from her ex.

Judge Ryan said Cuff had a history of violence with several assault charges including assaults against children.

"How much more of this is going to happen," Judge Ryan said.

Cuff was remanded on bail for sentencing on December 14.